Ag Groups to Talk Trade to Media at Monday Press Conference

April 30, 2010 Bookmark and Share

Leaders from organizations representing producers of wheat, corn, beef and pork, along with the American Farm Bureau Federation, will take part in a Monday press conference set to highlight the urgent need for passage of three long-pending free trade agreements.

The event is scheduled for at noon in the Zenger Room of the National Press Club in Washington.

Reporters outside of Washington will be able to call in at 888-293-6979 (in the U.S.) or 719-325-2413 (outside the U.S.), using pass code 9435383 to access the conference line.

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama set a goal of doubling exports over the next five years to stimulate economic growth.

Ag groups have long argued that this is achievable with the help of the agriculture sector; agricultural sales overseas are on track to hit $100 million this fiscal year, and agricultural exports have remained strong even through the recession.

The groups taking part in Monday’s event, organized by the National Pork Producers Council, have argued for quick passage of the pending agreements for a number of years, saying the access they provide will help increase and maintain market share in an increasingly competitive global economy.

Montana producer Dale Schuler, a former NAWG president and current chairman of the NAWG/U.S. Wheat Joint International Trade Policy Committee, will be the wheat industry’s representative at the conference.

Schuler will also give a number of other media interviews before the press conference and participate in the Washington Watch interview fair held by the National Association of Farm Broadcasting on Monday afternoon.

The wheat industry’s top trade priority remains the Colombia agreement, which is key to maintaining more than $90 million in wheat exports to Colombia every year. U.S. wheat faces competition in Colombia from Argentina, which benefits from the Mercosur trade agreement allowing for duty-free access, and Canada, which is poised to soon approve its own free trade agreement.

U.S. Wheat Associates estimates that, at current export prices, failure to ratify the U.S.-Colombia FTA could lead to an annual loss of more than $92 million for the U.S. wheat industry.

On the other hand, analysis by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) suggests that if the Colombia FTA were in effect now, U.S. wheat exports would be 20 million bushels greater and the farm price would be 10 cents per bushel higher.

For more on the importance of the pending FTAs and the wheat industry’s trade agenda please see www.wheatworld.org/trade or www.uswheat.org/whatWeDo/tradePolicy.

For information from a House Small Business Committee hearing held this week to examine how trade affects small businesses, including farms, please visit http://www.house.gov/smbiz/.